It’s no secret that my big mantra over here is “Spend less. Live more.”
But what does it mean? And how can adapting this mantra benefit you?
It’s a simple principle really: The less you have, the less you have to worry about.
Before I came to Grenada, I lived in a nice 3 bedroom townhouse in Richmond, VA. It was furnished and filled with so many wedding gifts, they overflowed and remained in boxes in our office. It had a fenced in area for our dog. It had a huge dining room table where we had friends over for dinner. In short, it was more than enough space and filled with more than enough things than I knew what to do with.
Did most of my furniture in that house come from thrift stores? Yes. Did my groceries usually come as a result of coupon clipping? Yes. Did I do projects for this blog on the cheap? Always.
But now that I live in 270 square feet, I realize I could have done a lot better. Now that I don’t have a walk in closet and only wear about 1/5 of the clothes I own, I realize I didn’t need that. And, now, dare I say it, we don’t have the room for a lot of Christmas decorations, I probably didn’t need 5 boxes of ornaments either.
So, what’s the issue here? Why is our American culture so focused on stuff? And why, here in Grenada, am I so not interested in stuff? How can you, even if you live in a fabulous area with every store imaginable, also not care about stuff?
The answer is really quite simple:
1. Filter the Junk Email
2. Turn off the TV
3. Don’t shop for fun
1. In the past month, every e-mail I’ve gotten from Rue La La, the Gap, etc. etc. etc. suffered a similar fate. They got clicked on and filtered in my Gmail. I don’t mean a nice “put in the archive” filter. I mean a big, bad delete.
And you know what? It works. I’d often get great offers in my email and it would make me miss home. It would make me crave a shopping trip. It would make me mad that I can’t wear the pretty Lilly Pulitzer dresses I own here in Grenada because they are 100% silk. My filter/delete method is a little addicting. All annoying e-mails go to live in that little gmail layer of hell. I’ve essentially deleted the pull of American consumerism all the way here from Grenada.
2. TV, hm. I love me some Modern Family and can obviously waste away in front of HGTV. But, TV access is an added expense we didn’t take on here in Grenada. So, I asked my landlord to take the TV out of our apartment.
Cutting out my exposure to commercials has helped me curb any tendency towards materialism. Instead, I’ve enjoyed writing for my blog, writing for other blogs, making things I see on Pinterest, taking a walk with little Julep, and making my way through the 2,000 or so book titles on my Nook.
When I think of how jam packed every day is around here with the hubs’ busy schedule and my running around trying to make life easy on him, I can’t imagine having the time for tv. And honestly, if I can convince hubs, I probably won’t have one when we go back home, unless it’s a small one just for movies for us or our future kiddos.
3. Lastly, stop shopping for fun. Hubs and I used to love taking a stroll around the mall in Richmond. We lived right by it, and it was such a pretty outdoor air mall. But, every single time we did this, what do you think happened? If you think we probably left with something, you’d be absolutely right.
Why didn’t we frequent a park? Why didn’t we go to the free art museum in town? Why did we decide to go to a mall in a very nice area of Richmond where we were sure to fall in love with something we had no idea we even wanted?
Malls exist for you to visit them to buy things. It’s pure and simple. So, technically if you don’t visit them, you won’t be tempted to buy. It’s an extremely difficult habit to break, but by only shopping for the things you need, you will save so much money in the long run. This is especially important with the upcoming holidays. Think of something simple or easy or practical to purchase for friends and family. Don’t go into debt just because it’s Christmas.
I’m not a trained financial expert, but I do love to budget and write about saving money. I can assure you that I feel lighter, happier, and more stress free after implementing the the principles I listed above in my life.
So what are you waiting for? If it worked for me, there’s no reason it shouldn’t work for you.